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Earthquake Survivor Revitalizes Qiang Embroidery in SW China's Sichuan

Viewed 408 times 2018-12-19 13:38 |System category:News

Pu Hongxue in Qiang traditional costume. [Xinhua]


Pu Hongxue is an earthquake survivor who lost her left arm on May 12, 2008 in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The 14-year-old girl was buried under rubble after the sudden occurrence of the devastating natural disaster.

It's a painful memory — nearly each of those who has experienced the Wenchuan massive earthquake has said so — however, Pu sees it differently. "I think the quake was nothing special," she said, "I regard it as the starting point of my new life."

But it took a price to start over.

After her amputation, since the 14-year-old Pu was still in a period of rapid bone growth, the entire section of the amputation needed be reopened every five days on average in order to be worn away by the grinding wheel, after which the wound would be sutured again.

In spite of the great physical agony, the strong-minded girl persisted. After 17 surgeries, she lost her left arm completely. But she still said to herself, "I am not scared."

Of the 52 students in her class, only seven survived. Pu was one of them, so she cherished her new life.

"We have learned not only how hard the world is, but also how nice and gentle it is," said Pu.

After she recovered and returned to her hometown, Pu chose to continue her studies. Some of the things that used to be easy have become extremely challenging for her after losing an arm, but she never ever gave up.

In 2013, Pu was admitted to Southwest University of Science and Technology with excellent results. After her graduation in 2017, Pu, who had already started a new life, decided to return home to help rebuild the culture of her hometown and revive the traditional culture of the nation.

With the support of the I Do Foundation, a public welfare fund, she launched the Cherishing Action, which transformed her from a "recipient" to a "donor" and a strong supporter of the I Do Foundation's program by protecting Chinese traditional culture.

The Cherishing Action aims to introduce designers to integrating traditional handicrafts into daily necessities through innovative design in line with trends.

"After I was buried in a disaster for 72 hours, kind people saved my life and accompanied me through the difficult period of amputation and recovery. It was their love that led me to the present. I know the power of love more than most people do," Pu said.

"Therefore, I hope to try my best and do something for my hometown by passing on my skills to others," Pu continued.

In Pu's hometown in Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County, northwest Sichuan Province, there is a group of embroidery craftsmen. After the Wenchuan earthquake, they lost their homes and the land they depended on.

After a period of research, Pu found that most of these elderly people were embroidery masters. She therefore made a determined effort to improve the living conditions of the empty nesters and left-behind children in the earthquake-stricken Beichuan area.

"In China, most of the lost handcrafts share a similar background as Qiang embroidery. However, scarcely  commercialized and manufactured, these handcrafts are not in high demand and do not bring in much profit, which in turn leads to more and more people giving up the craft together with  their skills," Pu explained. 

"We therefore wanted to launch this project with embroidery as the starting point, and then extend it to more traditional cultural fields," Pu added.

She began to develop new handicraft products while organizing the female embroiders to receive training, so that they could gain a dignified income through their own crafts, and in this way the traditional craftsmanship could be protected and passed down.

Soon, Pu's first product came out, combining Qiang's sheep horns and horn flowers with Qiang embroidery on notebooks.

At first, there were only a few orders, however, after a period of operation, her orders gradually increased from 100 to 4,000. The number of female embroiders she helped also increased to 50.

These embroidery workers did not have to go out to work anymore and instead they could take care of their children and the elderly at home while receiving dignified incomes through their own crafts. Gradually, more young people were willing to stay.

Consequently, a virtuous circle has formed for the Cherishing Action.

Up to May 12 this year, Pu has mobilized a total of more than 14,600 people to participate in the cultural protection of Beichuan Embroidery through the Cherishing Action platform, and has drawn nearly 5,000 orders for Beichuan's embroidering women. And her generous endeavor has also received wide acclaim from the media. 

Pu firmly believes that through her own actions and modern technology, she will be able to help more traditional craftsmen and their families, like Beichuan Embroidery Craftsmen, thereby contributing their bit towards building a more splendid national culture. 


Female Earthquake Survivor Revitalizes Qiang Embroidery in SW China's Sichuan Province
Pu Hongxue [Xinhua]


(Source: Xinhua/Translated and edited by Women of China)

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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